I arrived for lunch last Friday with Oido, my 5 year old son, crying in his mommy’s office. I learned that she scolded him because he just barged in and accused her of something that she did not understand.


Only when I arrived did she realize that Oido was frustrated and angry because she lost the Father’s Day card he made from his class he gave to her. He wanted to surprise me and he lost that opportunity..


I was touched and was beaming with pride for my son. I felt so special and just embraced him and told him that I am more than surprised. And when we found the present, he showed me what he wrote on it: “I love you Daddy”.


These are the moments when being a father feels so extraordinary. Although when it comes to raising children and being a parent, most of the attention goes to Moms. That is very understandable. Mommies are the ones who endured pregnancy, labor, nursing, and all others.


But does this put Daddy’s role at the sidelines? Not the least. In fact research suggests that Dads are important in a number of ways. First, Daddy’s presence in a household is associated with fewer behavioral problems in children. For instance, children raised in homes without fathers are at a greater risk for delinquent behavior and committing a crime than children raised in homes where the father is present.



Relatedly, girls raised in families without a father are more likely to become pregnant as teenagers than those who live with your fathers. There is also evidence that children who have two parents in the home are more likely to do well in school for the help and encouragement they get from both parents.


But the most convincing evidence of how important Dads are come from research on Dads interaction with their kids. Dads’ interactions with their kids differ from that of mothers. They play differently, that is, they tend to play more physical than mothers do. And they tend to encourage children to take more risks than moms do. Does it make a difference?


Research suggests that paternal physical play is associated with positive outcomes for children. Dad’s encouragement for risk taking allows children to do things on their own. Because most Dads tend to provide a safe and secure environment with supervision, they encourage their kids not to be afraid to try new things.


In general, Dads are necessary for raising happy and healthy children. Their roles are very significant in the home and cannot be relegated just to anyone.

This Father’s Day, here are some more tips for all Dads out there to enhance their impact on their children. First, Dads can show more emotions and vulnerability. Let go of the stoic type and learn to be more of a feeling person.


Second, Dads can begin to truly listen and empathize. In most households, Dad’s voice is the rule. But when Dad begins to lend a listening ear from the heart, it can make relationships much better.


And lastly, Dads can be more affectionate. Most Dads are allergic to physical affection that is why children tend not to open up to them. But when Dads become more affectionate by hugging and kissing, and embracing their children, it melts barriers and foster emotional bonds.


Happy Father’s Day!

PRESCHOOL: Play or Academics?

I have written a couple of articles about the benefits of a play-based preschool curriculum but I never made a direct comparison with an academically oriented classroom.

Clearly, I have my own bias towards play-based preschools as an educator. But it is not without evidence at all. Today, I would like to share a number of well controlled studies, based on an article by Dr. Peter Gray, which summarized and compared the effects of academically oriented early education classroom with those of play-based classrooms.

Strikingly, the results are consistent from study to study. Early academic training somewhat increases children’s immediate scores on the specific tests that the training is aimed at, but these initial gains wash out within 1-3 years and, in some studies, are eventually reversed.

But not only that. These studies indicate that the harm may really be significant on social and emotional development of the children.

In the 1970’s, the German government sponsored a large-scale comparison in which the graduates of 50 play-based kindergartens were compared, over time, with the 50 graduates of academic direct-instruction-based kindergartens.

Despite the initial academic gains of direct instruction, by grade four, the children from the direct-instruction kindergartens performed significantly worse than those from the play-based kindergartens on every measure that was used.

In particular, the kids from the direct instruction school were less advanced in reading and mathematics and less well-adjusted socially and emotionally. This study influenced the Germans, in part, to revert to play-based preschool.

Similar studies, particularly in the United States, have produced comparable results. One study, which involved poor African American children, indicated that those who attended preschools centered on academic training showed initial academic advantages over those who attended play-based schools.

But by the end of the fourth grade, these initial advantages were reversed. The children from the play-based preschools were now performing better, getting significantly higher good grades than were those from the academic preschools.

In a well-controlled experiment begun by David Weikart and his colleagues in 1967, sixty eight poor children were assigned to one of three types of nursery schools: Play-based, High/Scope (involved more adult guidance), and Direct Instruction (where the focus was on teaching reading, writing, and math, using worksheets and tests.)

The initial results of this experiment were similar to those of other such studies. Those in the direct-instruction group showed early academic gains, which soon vanished. This study, however, also included follow-up research when the participants were 15 years old and again when they were 23 years old.

At these ages there were no significant differences among the groups in academic achievement, but large, highly significant differences in social and emotional characteristics.

By age 15, those in the Direct Instruction group had committed, on average, more than twice as many “acts of misconduct” than had those in the other two groups. At age 23, as young adults, the differences were even more dramatic.

Those in the Direct Instruction group had more instances of friction with other people, were more likely to have shown evidence of emotional impairment, were less likely to be married and living with their spouse, and were far more likely to have committed a crime than were those in the other two groups.

What might account for such dramatic long-term effects of type of preschool attended? As I have stated before, play in the classroom can develop lifelong patterns of personal responsibility and prosocial behaviour that they carry in their childhood and early adulthood.

On the other hand, classrooms that emphasize academic performance develop lifelong patterns aimed at achievement and getting ahead which could potentially lead to friction with others.

P.S. Enrolment is going on at Bohol Child Head Start. Call or text 416-1248/09295571136. You can also visit us at Banat-I Hillside, Bool District, Tagbilaran City.